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July 11, 2018

Don't cry for Paul Manafort — his nearly 24-hour jailing in solitary confinement is of the VIP variety.

President Trump's former campaign manager has been sending emails, making hundreds of calls on a personal telephone, and bathing in a private bathroom, a Wednesday filing from Special Counsel Robert Mueller showed.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow pointed out that the documents paint a pretty rosy picture of Manafort's confinement, all things considered. "Among the unique privileges Manafort enjoys at the jail are a private, self-contained living unit, which is larger than the other inmates' units, his own bathroom and shower facility, his own personal telephone, and his own workspace to prepare for trial," the special counsel's office wrote. "Manafort is also not required to wear a prison uniform. On the monitored prison phone calls, Manafort has mentioned that he is being treated like a 'VIP.'"

Inmates are not supposed to send emails, but Mueller's office says that Manafort "appears to have developed a workaround." When his team visits the facility, they bring a laptop, which Manafort uses to read and compose emails. After his team leaves, the laptop connects to the internet and sends whatever Manafort typed out.

Manafort was sent to jail last month after he was accused of witness tampering following his charges of conspiracy and money laundering. He was previously under house arrest while awaiting trial, but it sounds like prison isn't cramping his style too badly. Summer Meza

June 26, 2019

Of all the questions Beto O'Rourke and John Delaney could've gotten during Wednesday night's debates, they somehow ended up with the most pointless.

The two ex-congressmembers neglected to run for reelection last fall, both presumably in anticipation of their 2020 presidential runs. Yet despite the fact that O'Rourke and Delaney gave up having any say in whether Congress should open an impeachment inquiry into President Trump, they were the only candidates who were asked whether they supported the proceedings.

O'Rourke, a former representative from Texas, has pushed for impeachment time and time again over the past month, and called it "the only way to save this country" on Wednesday. Delaney, who once served in Maryland, meanwhile said he supports House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) decision to wait.

Neither of their opinions will really do anything, though O'Rourke does get... something... for turning his impeachment answer into a brief art history lesson on this piece hanging in the Capitol building. Kathryn Krawczyk

June 26, 2019

Many Democratic voters wanted the 10 candidates on the Democratic debate stage to focus on issues like climate change and gun control, while refraining from focusing too heavily on President Trump. For the most part, that held true. But only Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio didn't mention Trump at all, NBC News reports.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) name-dropped the president most frequently, tallying nine mentions on the evening, with Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) next in line at seven. All together, the candidates brought up Trump 35 times in two hours.

Apparently the eight contenders who did mention the president didn't say anything that grabbed Trump's attention, either — at least as of yet. The president had threatened to live-tweet the debate, but he mostly remained quiet aside from talking about how boring the event was and criticizing NBC for experiencing technical difficulties. Tim O'Donnell

June 26, 2019

The first night of the Democratic debates is now behind us, and incredibly, almost every Democrat performed well. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was widely considered to be one of the big winners, with Jezebel trumpeting it was her night. The New Republic named former Housing Secretary Julián Castro the "big winner." Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee got badly-needed recognition, and social media ate up Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

In fact, the only candidate who seemed to be getting crickets after the debate was former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke:

"Beto is in over his head," The Cut ruled. Even famed pollster Frank Luntz agreed:

That isn't good news for the former Democratic darling, who desperately needed a breakout. O'Rourke is currently polling around 3 percent in RealClearPolitics' aggregate, putting him in sixth place in the more than twenty-person pool. Jeva Lange

June 26, 2019

Early party primary debates are all about shaking out the differences between the candidates. Perhaps no question did that more starkly on Wednesday night than an inquiry about the biggest geopolitical threat to America. Democrats couldn't agree on an answer, with the 10 candidates giving replies all across the board — and globe.

Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro all gave "China" as all or part of their answers. Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren both answered "climate change," which was also given a nod by Castro and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Nuclear weapons were mentioned by Delaney, Booker, and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio named Russia. Klobuchar also named Iran as one of her concerns.

But perhaps the biggest applause of all went to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee for his answer:

Watch the full range of answers below. Jeva Lange

June 26, 2019

Julián Castro is having a moment.

During Wednesday's 2020 Democratic debates, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary got an early applause line in when he was asked about closing the gender pay gap. Castro responded by saying he'd pass the long-stalled Equal Rights Amendment — and quickly shot up 2,400 percent in Google search interest since the debates began, Google Trends reported. The Equal Rights Amendment, meanwhile, saw search interest spike 800 percent.

Castro's Google triumph should come with a grain of salt, seeing as he wasn't getting a ton of searches to begin with. In the week leading up to the debates, he wasn't even among the top half of Wednesday candidates in terms of Google searches. Castro was the top searched candidate in barely a handful of counties around the U.S. as well, Google Trends showed.

Of course, no candidate stacks up to pizza. Kathryn Krawczyk

June 26, 2019

Let chaos reign.

With 10 candidates trying to answer detailed questions in a limited amount of time, Wednesday's Democratic debate in Miami was bound to have a few hiccups. Things got even more complicated when NBC had to cut to break unexpectedly just as the event's second hour was about to get rolling because of microphone and audio issues.

While the technical difficulties might seem like a metaphor for the overcrowded Democratic race, its not without precedent. In 1976, President Gerald Ford and his Democratic challenger Jimmy Carer had to stop their general election debate when the sound cut out. That pause lasted a lot longer than this one, too.

President Trump, at least, was stirred from his boredom by the mishap. Tim O'Donnell

June 26, 2019

Hablas español? Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker do, and they put it to full use on Wednesday night, with O'Rourke even receiving a question from Telemundo anchor and debate moderator José Diaz-Balart in Spanish.

At least a few of Thursday night's crop of Democrats were watching and taking note — and, presumably, hastily downloading Duolingo.

One Thursday candidate likely wasn't sweating it, though: South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who speaks Spanish in addition to Norwegian, French, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, and Dari. Jeva Lange

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